Navy men’s lacrosse senior defender Tom Evans recently spoke to PressBox about a typical day at the Naval Academy, the 100th Army-Navy lacrosse game and more. Evans, a native of Great Falls, Va., was third on the Mids in caused turnovers in 2019.
PressBox: How did you become interested in lacrosse?
Tom Evans: I’m from Northern Virginia and it’s pretty big around there. All my buddies in third grade started playing that, so I picked up a stick and started getting after it. I was originally a football guy, but I could see all my buddies making the transition so I got ahead of it.
PB: Why did you choose to come to Navy?
TE: There were two kids in the grades above me when I was in middle school and high school. One was Matt Morrison — he was a 2014 grad here — and another was Pat Keena, a 2016 grad. I looked up to them because they were leaders on the lacrosse team at my high school. They chose to go to Navy and I wanted to be like them, so I did the same thing.
PB: What are some of your favorite memories at Navy so far?
TE: They’re all pretty much lacrosse-based. Winning up at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse — that was pretty sweet, that was my sophomore year, that was great. Beating Army at their place sophomore year as well. Every day at practice is pretty much just a gift with these new coaches. They do a pretty good job of keeping the boys engaged and [it’s] just good to be out there. Nothing in particular, but I would say those two: the Carrier Dome and beating Army at their place.
PB: What was the 100th Army-Navy game like last spring?
TE: I got the opportunity to start last year. The five minutes after the national anthem to the opening whistle was probably the most nerve-wracking couple of minutes I’ve ever been involved in — just pure electricity. All the hype around the 100th Army-Navy game, it was just so cool. Seeing all the guys who you watched in middle school and high school, all the Navy players that are coming back, they’re tailgating before the game, getting loud in the stands. You want to do right by them, play your hardest. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win but it was awesome. It was so cool.
PB: What’s your favorite thing about Annapolis and the Naval Academy?
TE: All my best friends are. There’s definitely times when the school year’s a grind, but at the end of the day I’m surrounded by my best buddies. I can always lean on them. I’m playing the sport I love with 63 of my best friends. It’s cool. Once we get out of here, we get to do good stuff for the nation. It feels all worthwhile.
PB: What’s a day like for you at the Naval Academy, particularly when you have lacrosse going on?
TE: Normally [I] wake up around 6:30 or 6:00 depending on if I’m going to go for a swim in the morning. Breakfast at 7:00, first class is at 8:00 and they’ll go until about 11:45. Then we eat lunch as a team. We have a possible film [session] at 12:30 ’til 1:30 — film or lift, something like that. Two more hours of classes after that and then we’re right into a two-hour, two-and-a-half-hour practice. It’s pretty much full on until about 6:00 or 7:00 at night. You have dinner and then you get down to homework, try to get to bed by 11:00 or 12:00. That’s pretty much every day. It obviously varies with three periods thrown in there, but for the majority it’s go time from 6:00 until about 10:00 or 11:00.
PB: Who’s your best friend on the team and what’s a story that underscores your friendship on and off the field?
TE: There’s only five seniors left and we all went to [the Naval Academy Preparatory School]. We didn’t have a whole lot of liberty to go out to the town, so we were all locked into this one building. We just got to know each other pretty well because there’s nothing to do besides talk. That was a bedrock between me and the five other guys of the senior class.
PB: Who are some of the lacrosse players you looked up early in your career at Navy?
TE: Mike Strack, DJ Plumer, George Uhrich. They were studs. George didn’t play a whole lot; he was on and off the field. But DJ Plumer was probably one of the best defenders I’ve ever seen. He was a short-stick d-middie. … He could run like no one I’ve ever seen and just tire at all, make it look effortless. He’s probably one of the more skilled players I’ve seen. And then Mike Strack, he was an incredible competitor. Even in practice, he would get so heated. He’d almost start a fight with his own team if guys weren’t at the level he was at. Just watching him was a joy. You didn’t want to be on the wrong side, but it was just cool to be around him. He wanted to win that bad.
PB: Who was the biggest influence on your game growing up?
TE: There were a couple guys; I don’t think they went to college. I went to Landon, which is a pretty strong high school program. Third grade on, I watched all the varsity players. There were a couple guys who went to Ohio State, couple dudes who went to Drexel, Maryland, all over the place, Virginia.
PB: What advice would you give to younger players?
TE: Play more than one sport, don’t just focus on lacrosse. If you can, play football. If you’re a smaller guy, try to do cross country or soccer, something like that, because if you just focus too much on lacrosse, you’ll get burned out, and honestly, it’s better to be a dynamic player.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Navy Athletics